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Daily Astros News and Notes

Our benevolent overlords here at SBNation recently gave us access to some cool new stats for the site. We can see how many stories have been published all-time, how many members we have, etc. In surfing through this info, I noticed that we're about to cross a milestone on our FanPosts. We are 16 away from reaching 1,000. That's a pretty big achievement, so I thought we could roll out a contest for the occasion.

In the next week, whoever posts the best FanPost will get this:

That's right, a 1987 Jim Deshaies Donruss card. I was going through some of my old card albums a while back and figured this was the best way to use them now. I have some more sweet cards that we'll get to in the next few months.

For now, there are two ways to win a cool card like this. From now until next Tuesday, the best FanPost gets this card. As a bonus, whoever posts the 1,000th will also get a special card from my collection (can you say Kenny Lofton?). The posts will be judged by us staffers here at TCB and the winner will be announced in next Wednesday's Notes. Only one FanPost per contestant will be eligible, so be sure to take your time and really take some time on these. If any of you wiseacres get the idea to try and post a bunch of nonsense just to get to that 1,00th barrier, we'll just delete those and award the actual winner. So, no funny business.

Now, for the important question: do you like this idea? Do you need a topic to discuss? I'm thinking for future giveaways, we'll put a topic together, like, "Name one package of prospects you'd take for Roy Oswalt." For this, feel free to touch on any Astros-related topic you like.

Let's get to Paulino's start. I'm going to touch quickly on his overall numbers before we delve into some individual at-bats.

Pitch Statistics
Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Swinging Strikes / % Linear Weights Time to Plate
FF (FourSeam Fastball) 95.53 97.9 -7.22 9.02 54 35 / 64.81% 1 / 1.85% 0.7470 0.393
CH (Changeup) 86.39 87.1 -5.55 8.27 8 4 / 50.00% 0 / 0.00% -0.0087 0.434
SL (Slider) 87.85 90.6 -1.76 0.23 31 21 / 67.74% 2 / 6.45% -1.4813 0.428
CU (Curveball) 77.36 79 -1.10 -4.44 19 9 / 47.37% 1 / 5.26% 1.1177 0.483

Things to note here: Paulino's fastball didn't have as much vertical break as in the past. Since we're dealing with a new ballpark, it could just be irregularities with the new computers. His velocity remained excellent all night and he was able to throw his four-seamer for strikes pretty consistently. In fact, the only pitch he had trouble locating was the curve. He only got four swing-throughs all night, which is a little unusual for him. However, he was facing a great lineup and playing from behind. He might have been avoiding throwing it by players to make better pitches. As clack has already pointed out, the big bonus here is that Paulino was able to pitch around his misfortune and didn't let that Braun home run wreck his entire night.

What I thought would be interesting here is to see what Paulino threw Ryan Braun in that first at-bat and then what happened in the ensuing meetings. Here's what the first AB, when he gave up the home run, looked like:


Both pitches were four-seam fastballs, clocking in at 98 and 95 MPH. We'll look at why that matters later in this post, but for now, let's just say that three-MPH difference could be the reason why Paulino was able to get a swing-through on the first and gave up an absolute bomb on the second. Zach Levine said it went 447 to dead center. With a pitch at the top of the zone on the inner half of the plate? That's a good piece of hitting by Braun.

Now, here's the second time Paulino faced Braun:


After seeing three straight four-seam fastballs over 95 MPH, Paulino snapped off a slider at the bottom of the zone, getting Braun to roll over on the pitch for a ground out to third.

And his third AB against Braun:


Again, two fastballs start off the at-bat, then Paulino throws two sliders. He gets the groundout to first on a slider that jammed Braun in on his hands. Look at the sequencing of all three at-bats. Paulino used his slider more as an out pitch, rather than earlier in the count to cross Braun up. Obviously, they had some scouting report on him that he didn't sit on first-pitch fastballs or that he couldn't always catch up to great velocity.

Whatever the reason, it was a nice series for Paulino. I'm especially impressed with his location on that last slider. That's a tough pitch to spot. If the slider backs up more over the plate, Braun hits it a mile. If it doesn't break, he puts a man on base by hitting Braun in the shoulder. Just a really nice pitch by Paulino with a solid outcome.

What's up with fastball velocity?: There are some very smart people writing about baseball these days. This is one of many examples, but it speaks to what we're looking at today. Specifically, look at the frequency of 95 MPH fastballs in different locations. That upper part of the zone sees its fair share of heaters in that speed range.

Why does this matter? It explains why Paulino's 96 MPH pitch at the top of the zone to Braun (which he hit a country mile) wasn't a bad pitch. It was in a good location, had good velocity and good movement. Braun just made a better play.

There's a ton of good information in there that you can go check out, including stuff on the frequency of certain breaks on fastballs and how effective they are. All very applicable to the discussions we have here after games.

Comment of the Day and Leaderboard: Was there any doubt what my comments of the day would be?

ugh, it's like a bad infomercial

“Is your team struggling? The solution: look for the Houston Astros on your schedule. On a 9-game losing streak? Play the Astros! Trying to get out of the bottom of your division? Houston’s got your answer!”

by mike_o on May 25, 2010 9:53 PM CDT reply actions 1 recs

Get your Oswalts, your Berkmans, even your Wandys and Myers! 10% discount if you bring a relief pitcher with you to the store! Hurry up, because this sale only lasts until July 31st!

by OremLK on May 25, 2010 9:55 PM CDT up reply actions 1 recs

Name # of Posts
OremLK 57
Joe in Birmingham 51
ol Pete 36
clack 29
timmy_ 16
Subber10 14

Age and Jay Austin: Bryan Smith over at FanGraphs profiles Jay Austin as he relates to the California League. Basically, the post is more about the age of a prospect over his production. A teenager getting by with slightly above average stats in High A ball is more impressive than a 23-year old hitting .400 in short-season ball.

But, Smith makes another good point as to the quality of pitching Austin has seen. Everyone assumes there is no pitching talent in the Cal, since guys get lit up so often. However, there are quite a few good prospects pitching there. They all just happen to be a bit older than Austin. Not surprisingly, he's held his own against them without doing anything spectacularly.

Minor league moves: Lots of happenings in the past few days. As Astros County and Farmstros have pointed out last Thursday, the Astros made a ton of player moves. The highlights?

  • Luis Cruz, LHP moves up from Extended Spring Training to Lexington
  • Sammy Gervacio, RHP placed on Round Rock's Disabled List
  • Kyle Greenwalt, RHP activated from Lancaster's Disabled List
  • Sergio Perez, RHP moves up from Corpus Christi to Round Rock
  • Marcos Cabral, IF moves up from Corpus Christi to Round Rock

We talked about some of these in the open thread on Monday, but it's really surprising that Perez got the call-up. His strikeout rate has been horrible for two seasons now at Corpus. He's not performing when he gets a chance and must be viewed more as roster-filler than anything at this point. I wonder if the Astros are just making room in the Hooks' rotation for someone like Dallas Keuchel to come up in the next few weeks.

I'll be interested to see how Cruz does in Lexington. He's got one of the more electric arms in the system and scouts rave about him, but I was a tad disappointed with his performance at Greeneville last summer. He's posted good K rates, but doesn't always have great control and may still need to develop as a pitcher (instead of being a thrower).

In addition to those moves, with Gustavo Chacin's demotion, the Astros sent Erick Abreu back to Corpus from Round Rock and Collin DeLome was placed on the disabled list with a separated shoulder, after he collided with Reno's catcher in Sunday's game.

Jio's chances: More goodness from Bryan Smith, this time with a look at how first-round shortstops have performed historically. Since the Astros just drafted one, I thought this a timely piece. He narrowed his list down to just the guys who posted WARs higher than 7, which leaves him with 13 players. Of those, only four stuck at shortstop.

The good news for Mier? One of those guys was Nomar Garciaparra, who he has been compared to in the past. The bad news comes in this closing paragraph:

As I look at each player that failed, and his minor league path before then, it quickly jumped out at me that Low-A is a really important barometer for shortstops. I said above that the good players had .350 OBP’s in Low-A, where that was pretty rare for the failed prospects. I think of guys like Jason Repko and Aaron Herr, who would go on to tease scouts with some pretty solid performances in Double-A and Triple-A as they moved up the ladder. But Repko had hit .220/.257/.329 in Low-A, and Herr was .248/.283/.366. The fact is, for the most part, these highly athletic players tend to do a good job hitting mediocre Low-A pitching.

Mier is currently at .308 with his OBP. Considering that's almost 100 points higher than his batting average, and that his BABiP is just .265, there's every reason to think he could finish the season with a OBP at or over .350. However, if he's still struggling in a month, it might be time to re-evaluate our expectations for Mier.

Another mock draft: Frankie Piliere lays out what could be a dream scenario for Houston on June 7th (where the Astros will be represented by Jeff Bagwell, btw). He has the Astros taking Zack Cox with the No. 8 pick and high school OF Josh Sale with No. 19.

I'm not sure how realistic that is, but it would definitely be a coup if it happened. There has been talk that the Astros would be willing to take Sale at No. 8, so getting him 11 spots lower would be great for the organization. The only thing that concerns me about this is this draft class is supposed to be pitcher-heavy. The Astros do need some pitching prospects, so by not taking one until the supplemental first, are the Astros not getting value?

Of course, Jonathan Mayo posted his top 20 picks, and he has the Astros taking Delino DeShields, Jr. with their second first-rounder and Cox at No. 8. I can't tell whether this "buzz" that surrounds so much of the Astros interest in these players is real or not. DeShields would be an intriguing guy, but he fits the mold that the Astros have already filled with T.J. Steele, Jay Austin, J.B. Shuck, Brian Kemp and Grant Hogue. Do they really need another speedy center fielder in the system?